A Short Story–The Unexpected© Elsa Wolf

“Let’s have breakfast together tomorrow,” Joey said, over the mobile phone.

“Yes, I’d love to,” Maggie replied.

The reception wasn’t ideal and sounded to his mother like he was talking into a tin can. She continued wiping down the kitchen counters with one hand while holding the phone in the other.

“We need to meet at 8 A.M. by the bus stop, my class schedule is packed.”

Maggie couldn’t figure out why he sounded so insistent.  It wasn’t like him, and it was too damn early, but curiosity won. At the appointed time, they rendezvoused at the bus stop on Connecticut Avenue by the National Zoo. He didn’t say much, other than greeting her with a smile, until they reached the university campus. She thought about when he had first chosen her Alma Mater and the pride welled up again. At the corner of H and 21st Street, the bus pulled up in front of an empty lot where a building had been during her years at GW, but a sign listing future plans stood in its place. On the other side of the road, the Lisner Auditorium still shined with a newer open courtyard flanked with pathways leading up to an obelisk in the center.

Joey’s phone chimed. As they stepped out of the bus, he interrupted their plans and announced that he had to disappear for a brief meeting. Maggie didn’t want to wait but didn’t really have another choice. He’d apologized, and they agreed to meet by the obelisk in 45-minutes. The phone chimed again. Maggie felt rather annoyed by the constant interruptions of text messages, this was their time. Regardless, he jogged off with his backpack flopping left and right across his shoulders. He, like most runners, was fit and lean. Maggie longed for the days when she was as fit. The years hadn’t been kind. Her mid-section had lost its definition. She snickered at herself for referring to a part of her own body as it. By the curb sat a vendor’s cart. A black coffee—no cream or sugar—would perk her up. The man poured the brew into a to-go cup, she paid cash. These days, more often than not, people use a debit or credit card. For small amounts, it hardly seemed worth the effort. Maggie meandered back to the courtyard and sat down on the bench to wait. Looking at the coffee, she smiled and recalled never being willing to buy anything from street vendors or food trucks for fear of getting ill. Today, in these modern times, everyone bought things from them without any problems. Lifting her toes to the sky, she did a few rounds of leg-lifts and breathed in the moist air.

Bartholomew Dobbins and the 100 Face Masks, June 2020 by Louise Capon©

Once there was a tailor, named Bartholomew Dobbins, who lived in a small shop on the edge of town.  All day he sewed for the town’s people.  He hemmed pants and dresses, replaced buttons, and fixed jackets to fit like they were custom made.  He made dresses and hats and all manner of clothing.  He even made the bridesmaid dresses when the Mayor’s daughter got married.  It was a fine and fancy wedding and Bartholomew Dobbins was proud to have helped.

But one year, in the spring, there was trouble.  That winter, a wicked virus came to the town and was spreading among the town’s people.  Many folks were sick.  Some had died.  No one knew how to make it go away or how to protect themselves.  The Mayor was very worried and upset.  His job was to take care of the town and the people in it.  So, the Mayor made a proclamation that all people, young and old, should wear masks to cover their noses and mouths when they went out of their homes.  This way, they could slow down the spread of the virus and maybe stop people from getting sick.

Short Story-The Traveling Laptop © Elsa Wolf

Kat stepped off the platform into the first train she found, leading to her destination. It was all she could do to keep focused. She’d traveled over three thousand miles in the last four days. The trip began with a black roller bag that she’d had to replace with an obnoxious pink one soon after the initial phase of the journey. The first one lost its wheels. It was too heavy to carry with her bad shoulder, and the only available replacement made her feel uncomfortable. It was too bright. All she wanted to do was sit down in the train, but she didn’t want to sit next to the first person off the aisle. The last time she’d done that the businessman turned out to be an evangelist, who wanted to heal her by putting his hand on her injured limb. The religious conversation up to that moment was quite interesting.

Book Review

Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving

This classic took time to get into even after I traveled to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. The fortress grounds and palace were lovely. The book begins with Washington Irving arriving at the Alhambra in 1828, discusses his time there (real stories and legends), and ends when he leaves to take on a diplomatic position in London. The version I purchased on-site for 9 euros has gorgeous photographs of paintings included (ISBN; 978-84-95856-61-6). The information Irving conveyed was interesting, but for me, it was more of a study than a leisurely read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.com

Short Story – The Event © Elsa Wolf

The flurry of the moment takes over the mood of the evening. The hall is filled with long tables waiting for the final place settings to be adjusted. Scanning the room, I see a young lady sitting at one of the tables twiddling her fingers. I realize it’s my niece, and she appears to be bored. Without hesitation, I walk over and assign her the task.

“All the tables and place settings…”

“Yes,” she smirks, “and all those chairs?”

“The chairs, yes, they are out of balance with the place settings.”

“And?”

“Please, adjust them. Use your mom’s as an example. I have to go over my introductory speech again.” I turn around. My nephew was so close I almost fell over him. The expression on his six-year-old face is pitiful. His elbow is scraped, and droplets of blood are emerging. A tear is running down his face while he politely asks for some Bactine™ and a bandage. Then he grumbles about hating winter and wanting to go back home where it’s warm. I comfort him and look beyond his sister at their father, who is standing by the main door. With long strides, he crosses the room.

Adventures; Spain- Granada, Malaga, Madrid, Toledo, Barcelona

GRANADA – We took the ALSA bus line cross-country. Since it’s off-season, we didn’t need to purchase tickets in advance on our SmartPhones, but we did anyway and bought them two hours later than we meant to. No problem, with a translation App, the lady at the ticket booth exchanged them for an earlier bus. She spoke English but appreciated my effort and likely thought my accent was comical. Right before getting on the bus, I dropped my ticket, and it floated onto a man’s shoe. He kindly picked up his food, gingerly grabbed the ticket before it flew away, and handed it to me with a smile. I should also note that we take taxies instead of schlepping luggage to and from our lodgings (a new thing for us). Writing down the address and showing the paper to the driver while trying to speak pigeon Spanish seems to work fine. The fee is anywhere from 5 to 10 euros depending on the traffic, how many passengers are in the vehicle, and whether or not the city crossing goes through more than one zone. We considered using Uber, but the credit card we used with the US account wasn’t cooperating, so we weren’t able to take advantage of the lower costs.

The Alhambra in Granada was the main reason we returned to Granada. On our last visit, the tickets were sold out. We bought them in advance this time and had to provide our Passport number to complete the purchase. In the early morning, we walked up the beautiful tree-lined path with birds serenading us from above. The path is also lined with tall wrought iron lamps that looked like they were straight out of The Chronicles of Narnia. When we reached the Alhambra, about a half-hour before our entry time, there was a small line forming among the buildings that towered over our heads. Once inside, the interior facades are like nothing I’ve ever seen with tiles and plaster reliefs on every surface. The complex has sixty spots to stop and review with a guide/audio tour. There is no short way to explain, other than looking online at photographs or going there in-person. Another option is to get a copy of Washington Irving’s book called The Alhambra, to get an idea of what it was like in his time in the 1800s. Even all these years later, many of the things he describes are similar to what I saw. I think we could have spent the entire wandering around the complex, but we only stayed two hours. It was colder than down in town, and we hadn’t worn enough clothes. The walk down the massive hill was not quite as heart-pounding as the journey up. When we got back into town, we explored the narrow roads, some with merchants others with home, and found the Archaeological Museum. We learned it was created by the Royal Order of 1879. Prior it was an Antique’s office. Inside there are parts of armor, pottery, and statues. In the inner courtyard, decorative tiles cover the floor and the kick panel of the stair treads that I’d love to have in my house.

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